Swedish company makes pollution masks for India

Protective, comfortable and fashionable masks in great demand


December 3, 2016

/ By / New Delhi

India & You

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A visit to India prompted the dormant asthma problem of a Swedish student. Bothered by this sudden health jerk, the atrocity of bad-air quality on urban dwellers and unavailability of effectively-designed protection masks led Alexander Hjertström to make pollution masks for Indians.

Prompted by the rising air pollution levels in India and looking at the urban lifestyles subjugated by such modern atrocities, a Swedish healthcare start-up called Airinum has come up with high-tech masks to protect people from air contamination. Named ‘urban breathing mask’, the product is being launched worldwide. With an aim to block 99 pc of the toxic micro-particles that one inhales, Airinum has equipped high-tech filters in the mask.

According to figures by Greenpeace, for the year 2015, India outstood China in the number of deaths due to ambient (outdoor) air pollution; India witnessed 3,283 premature deaths per day, whereas China had 3,233 deaths. The high levels of air pollution also led to aggregation of air-borne diseases like asthma.

In fact, it was actually the resurfacing of asthma for Alexander Hjertström that made him co-found Airinum. Hjertström had moved to India from Sweden for a student exchange programme when the polluted air started causing him problems. As a protective measure, when Hjertström started using pollution masks, he found them inefficient.

“It was evident that the current product offering had not taken a user perspective into account. I simply couldn’t find a mask I would like to wear. I only found industrial respirators that had good protection but were extremely uncomfortable to wear, or poorly protective masks with flamboyant designs,” Hjertström was quoted saying.

After dissatisfactory results from uncomfortable industrial respirators and other poorly designed masks, Hjertström co-founded Airinum along with Fredrik Kempe, Johannes Herrmann and Mehdi Rejraji to develop the mask for urban citizens.

Masks by Airinum differ from other similar products in the market in terms of design and technology applied. While the poorly-designed masks lack proper filter and hence do not serve the purpose, Airinum uses triple filter technology that has been tested in Sweden in collaboration with Camfil, a global leader in the air filter industry.  The masks also come with other accessories such as mask skin, changeable filters, head strap and a storage bag.

According to stats by the company, an average adult breathes 11,000 litres of air a day and most people are not aware the quality of air they are inhaling. The World Health Organisation and the University of Bath together researched and showed results stating that 92 pc of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits. This indicates that the global air pollution leads to about 18,000 premature deaths.

Airinum says that this makes it a much bigger issue than the number of people that die from AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries combined; and the company thus wants to  help urban citizens by providing them with protective, comfortable yet fashionable masks.

“We don’t believe functionality needs to compromise design. Urban breathing masks should be an avenue for personal expression as any other fashion item; After all, breathing masks cover half your face. Our masks are therefore carefully designed so everyone can feel confident wearing them,” says Kempe.

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